Soft day, thank God

It’s a dark, rainy day here in Seattle, and we wonder where the sun has gone.  In truth, it’ll probably break out late this afternoon, so all is not lost in the garden — although things are looking quite floppy at the moment.  Our rainiest day on last year’s tour was in Dorset at Chiffchaffs, a fabulous private garden that we spent lots of time in, even though it was coming down in buckets.  Mr. and Mrs. Potts took us into the small dining room, where we stood dripping on the floor, drinking coffee, and asking them questions about the garden.  Turns out that Mrs. Potts was, at one time, secretary to Graham Stuart Thomas.

            The other wettest day I can remember on a tour was at Stourhead in Wiltshire (seen above), an impressive 18th-century landscape garden NOT designed by Capability Brown.  It’s a National Trust garden, and the walk around the lake — about 2 miles — takes you through woods with sudden openings that reveal spectacular views.  We were taken round by the assistant head gardener.  It didn’t look like rain when we started so I didn’t take my raincoat.  Bad choice — we were less than halfway round when it started raining and it continued to pour.  We sought refuge under a 200+-year-old Douglas fir (and felt right at home), but then continued in the wet.  It was really coming down as we dashed across the bridge; I was so wet that my eyelashes were filled with raindrops.  Remember the scene in the latest “Pride and Prejudice” movie where Keira Knightley runs across the bridge in the rain?  That was Stourhead.  Been there, done that.

            Leighton wore shorts that day, because it wasn’t cold at all.  When we got to our second garden at Hadspen House (at that time the garden and nursery were owned by Nori and Sandra Pope), we put our raincoats on — closing the barn door after the cows got out.  Leighton’s green raincoat is a short one, coming to just above his knees.  He’s an enormous help when I’m trying to carry a camera, take notes and ask questions while walking through gardens, so he always carries my big bag.  So there he stood in his rain hat and raincoat with no visible pants underneath — and carrying a big bag.  Flasher alert!

            Hat, hood or umbrella?  I’m not an umbrella person — I’m always afraid that I’ll poke someone’s eye out, and I don’t like it when other people carry umbrellas, because I’m afraid they’ll poke my eye out.  I prefer a hood on my raincoat to a hat, only because my hair gets flattened to my head so easily, a hood at least gives me some dignity.  

            Downpours are seldom when we’re visiting gardens, although we might have a few of those light misty days.  “Soft day, thank God,” is what they say in Ireland about that kind of day.  Not really rain, not really dry.


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One Response to “Soft day, thank God”

  1. debra Says:

    Hi Marty, you’ve entered the blogging world with WONDERFUL stories. I am sooooo excited to read your prose. And Kudos to Virginia for creating an adorable illustration. Love it!
    Now….where are those photos????
    xoxo Deb

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